Find out when a name change is possible in Germany, the requirements, the procedure, costs and special features for weddings and children. In German society, your own name is not only part of your identity, but also a legally protected asset that is inextricably linked to your person. However, the desire to change your name can arise for a variety of reasons – be it for personal convictions, family reasons or after drastic life events such as a wedding or divorce. In this blog post, we shed light on the legal framework for name changes in Germany, explain possible reasons and the necessary requirements and provide an overview of the procedure, the associated costs and special regulations for children. A well-founded guide for all those who are toying with the idea of having their name legally changed.
Name changes: When is a change possible?
A name change is permitted by law in Germany under certain circumstances and can be carried out for a variety of reasons. However, this step cannot be taken purely out of personal preference or spontaneous whim, but requires valid reasons that are anchored in the German Civil Code (BGB) and other regulations.
Possible reasons include, for example, the severity of the psychological burden caused by the previous name or a name that sounds ridiculous or is offensive. A change of name can also be applied for if there is a risk of confusion or integration difficulties due to a foreign-sounding name.
If you get married or divorced, you can also change your name, but there are special rules that can make changing your name a little easier. In such cases, adapting the name is often desired for social and family reasons and is seen as a sign of cohesion, separation or a new phase in life.
Parents who want to change their child’s name face a special challenge. Special consideration must be given to the welfare of the child and any effects on the child’s identity. Name changes for children therefore usually require additional justification and close scrutiny by the relevant authorities.
Requirements for a name change in Germany
Anyone wishing to change their name in Germany must first familiarize themselves with the legal basis, as a name change in this country is not an arbitrary decision, but must be objectively justified. It is important to understand that the civil rights of each individual are very strongly linked to their personal name and are therefore also protected by the state with a certain degree of insistence.
The application for a name change must contain serious reasons, for example, if the current name gives rise to ridicule or confusion or if it is unacceptable for other understandable reasons. It should be noted that emotional or aesthetic reasons in particular are generally considered insufficient for a change of first name or surname, which significantly reduces the chances of a successful change.
The application is usually submitted to the responsible administrative authority, in particular the registry office or the citizens’ office, depending on the respective municipal assignment. In addition to the personal data and current name, the application must also include a plausible explanation for the desired change. This application is then examined in an administrative procedure and a decision is made on the name change.
If the requirements are met and the application for a name change was successful, the official re-registration at all relevant offices will follow. It is advisable to inquire about the associated costs and fees in advance so that the person concerned is fully informed about the effort involved in such a name change. In conclusion, a name change in Germany should be a well-considered step that requires careful consideration and comprehensive preparation.
The procedure for applying for a name change
The process of a name change in Germany is regulated by certain legal frameworks and interested parties should be familiar with the relevant procedure. Applicants must first submit a formal application to the relevant registry office or local authority in their place of residence, which must be justified by valid reasons under German naming law.
Documents that are typically required include the birth certificate, a valid identity card or passport, marriage or divorce certificates if applicable and, depending on the reason for the change request, further evidence such as a medical certificate. Anyone wishing to change their name should be aware that the process can take several weeks or even months, during which the authorities will check the requirements and make a decision.
It should also be noted that the processing fees for the application may vary, depending on the effort involved and the circumstances of the name change. A precise cost breakdown can be offered by the competent authority as soon as all the details of the case are known. It is important that applicants are financially prepared for these costs and perhaps even plan to pay in advance.
Finally, after the authorities have reviewed all the documents and justifications submitted, a decision is made on the name change and the applicant is informed of the outcome in writing. If approved, the change will be officially recorded in the civil registers and new identity documents will be issued showing the changed name.
The costs of a name change in Germany
When considering a name change in Germany, it is important to be aware that there are certain costs involved. These costs may vary depending on the individual case and the federal state in which you submit your application. In principle, the fee for a name change is made up of administrative costs and any expenses incurred for necessary documents or expert opinions.
The fees for a name change in Germany depend on the administrative costs and the financial capacity of the person making the application. It is therefore not possible to give a generally valid amount. However, it is not uncommon for amounts of between a few hundred and several thousand euros to be incurred. For example, in more complicated cases, such as changing a surname, the costs may be higher than for changing a first name.
Furthermore, additional expenses may increase the costs. These expenses could be incurred for officially certified copies of documents, possible translation fees for foreign documents or for obtaining expert opinions if this is necessary to justify the name change. In addition, if the name change is successful, further expenses must be expected, for example for the adaptation of official documents such as identity cards or driving licenses.
It is advisable to inform yourself thoroughly in advance and to obtain a precise cost breakdown from the responsible authority so as not to be surprised by the fees incurred. As the name change is a step that cannot be reversed, it should be taken carefully and with full knowledge of the costs involved.
Change of name on marriage or divorce
Marriage or divorce is a profound turning point in many people’s lives and often leads them to consider changing their surname. In the case of a wedding, the partners have the option of choosing a common married name, which expresses the visible unity of the family. This decision is not only a symbolic act of solidarity, but also has an impact on official documents and legal matters.
The question of names also often arises in the event of a divorce. A person who took the name of their partner when they got married can take their birth name or the name they had before the marriage in the event of a divorce. Renaming can be an important step in starting a new chapter and emphasizing independence after the end of a marriage. The name change procedure is generally unbureaucratic, as the previous name was already legally established.
No separate procedures need to be initiated for a name change at the time of marriage, as this can be done directly at the time of marriage by declaration to the registrar. However, couples should bear in mind that once a married name has been chosen, it is binding and can only be changed under certain circumstances and with a new name change. This illustrates how important the choice of name is and that this decision should be carefully considered.
In contrast, a name change after a divorce usually requires an application to the relevant registry office and the submission of the legally binding divorce certificate. The costs for such a name change can vary depending on the effort involved and should be checked in advance with the relevant authorities. It is therefore essential to find out about the relevant requirements and formalities in good time in order to make the process of changing your name as smooth as possible.
Name change for children: What should I bear in mind?
When changing a child’s name, there are various aspects that need to be carefully considered. First of all, it is important to understand that a child’s name cannot be changed without good reason and that the legal conditions may vary from state to state. A court must determine that a change is in the best interests of the child and that there are no legal obstacles.
Furthermore, the legal guardians must be involved in the name change process. As a rule, the consent of both parents is required, unless one parent has been deprived of custody or there is another serious scenario that justifies a sole decision by a custodial parent. If the child is already older than 14, their consent to the name change is also an essential factor.
An important point that should not be ignored is the effect of the name change. It can have far-reaching consequences for the child, not only in terms of their personal sense of identity, but also with regard to administrative procedures, such as at school, with authorities or in the case of cross-border travel. Comprehensive advice from a specialist lawyer or the relevant registry office is therefore recommended in order to gain an overview of all potential consequences.
Finally, the costs of a name change should not be underestimated. These may vary depending on the cost and the federal state and may involve additional expenses for new documents such as ID cards and passports for the child. It is advisable to carry out a detailed cost calculation in advance of submitting the application in order to avoid financial surprises.
Frequently asked questions
What are the circumstances under which a name change is possible in Germany?
A name change is possible in Germany if there is an important reason. These include, for example, serious psychological stress caused by the current name, stigmatization or the restoration of a former family name.
What requirements must be met to apply for a name change in Germany?
In order to apply for a name change in Germany, there must be an important reason, the name change must not cause confusion and there must be no conflict with the interests of the general public. In addition, the applicant must generally have their main place of residence in Germany.
What is the procedure for applying for a name change?
The procedure begins with the submission of an application to the competent authority, usually the registry office or the administrative authority. The application must be accompanied by certain documents, including proof of main residence and reasons for the name change. After reviewing the application and a possible hearing, a decision is then made on the change.
What costs can I expect when changing my name in Germany?
The costs for a name change in Germany vary depending on the effort involved and the individual case. They can range from a few hundred to several thousand euros. The exact costs are determined by the competent authority and can be requested in advance.
How does a name change work in the event of a wedding or divorce?
At a wedding, the partners can decide whether to choose a joint name, keep their birth names or have a double name. In the event of a divorce, the married name can be retained, the maiden name can be returned to or a double name used during the marriage can be discarded.
What are the special features of a name change for children?
For children under the age of 18, the legal guardians must apply for the name change. If the parents or legal guardians disagree, the consent of both is required. From the age of 14, the child must consent to the name change themselves.
Can a name change be rejected in Germany?
Yes, a name change in Germany can be refused if there are insufficient grounds, if it is contrary to the public interest or if it could lead to confusion. The decision is at the discretion of the competent authority and must be justified in the event of a rejection.